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Billings nursing homes hoping new ownership will help improve care

By Charlie Klepps,


BILLINGS - A Utah-based company called Eduro Healthcare recently purchased two Billings nursing homes, and company leaders say they want to improve the conditions of senior care facilities across Montana.

Eduro now owns seven senior care facilities in the state, after taking over Bella Terra and Avantara in Billings this week. Eduro CEO Christopher Thompson said that while the industry has been struggling, his organization is motivated to help improve the current situation.

"It's difficult, but we're passionate about it and we love what we do," Thompson said. "We understand that it's a needed industry and that it serves the population of people that come here."

His recent purchase comes at a difficult time for Montana nursing homes. Twenty percent of all senior care facilities in the state were forced to shut down operations during 2022 due to staffing shortages and increased costs due to rising Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Thompson said that his company has been able to adapt, and that has helped them grow and expand during times when other facilities are struggling.

"We want to help change people's lives and so when we see an opportunity where we can make an impact, that is what drives us to keep growing and expanding," Thompson said. "We've been able to adapt, and I think that has been one of our strengths that helps us grow in times that have been difficult for others."

Eduro Healthcare now owns senior care facilities in nine states. While his facilities have managed the tough times, he said it's up to state lawmakers to help fix problems that are forcing homes to close.

"As an industry, we're really looking for the states to step up," Thompson said. "Hopefully, they'll look at the things still on the table to help alleviate the pain points that everyone in the industry will feel, especially here in Montana."

During this past Montana legislative session, no bills were passed to fix the problem. One bill that would've restructured the Medicaid reimbursement rate was passed with bipartisan support by both the House and Senate. The bill passed the House 91-8 and the Senate 32-18. However, Gov. Greg Gianforte opted to veto it.

Helena Republican Sen. Becky Beard was the author of the bill and said that she was bummed to see a bill that had so much support fail to become a law.

"It's almost like we're letting the state of Montana down, and we don't want to do that," Beard said. "They were afraid it was going to be another program that was going to be out of control, and I understand that, but we have so many people that were in support of it."

Gianforte defended his veto in a statement: “While being mindful of the budget authority provided to us by the Legislature, my administration will continue to support Montana's skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.... However, as more Montanans elect to age in their homes and outside of an institution, I cannot support fiscally unsound legislation that undermines and ignores that personal decision."

Beard and other lawmakers are now hoping to collect enough signatures to override Gianforte's veto. It would require two-thirds of both the House and Senate, which Beard said can be challenging now that the legislative session is over.

"It's going to require people to open their mail during a busy time, while they are on vacation or at graduations," Beard said. "If it doesn't get fixed now, it's not fixed, and we need to get it addressed."

For Thompson, his company will continue to expand hoping to continue to improve the conditions for people all over Montana and beyond.

"We wanted to be involved in an industry that has meaning and purpose," Thompson said. "We feel like owning and operating nursing homes checks those boxes. We have a moral drive to help people that need help and that's why we're here."

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